Category Archives: Writing

The Bride’s Guide to Thank You Notes

We recently made our case for thank you notes—arguing that, far from being antiquated or out of date, thank you notes remain vital ways of extending gratitude and friendship. They are especially relevant during this, the season of giving and receiving gifts.

Of course, Christmas is not the only reason why you might pen a thank you note. Another reason? You’ve recently gotten married, and have a whole stack of notes to send out for all those wedding gifts you received.

This can be daunting. Let us say from the onset that we do not recommend skipping out on thank you note writing. When you get a gift, you should take the time to write a brief note; failure to do so is just rude.

As for the nuts and bolts of post-wedding thank you notes, here are some quick tips and pointers.

Writing Thank You Notes After Your Wedding

Don’t be late! The good news is that you have plenty of time to get all your wedding thank you notes written; etiquette dictates that, so long as you get them all mailed before your one-year anniversary, you’re in good shape. Why not set aside one evening a week to write thank you notes, and write maybe 10 in each sitting? You’ll blaze through ‘em in no time!

Get the names right. There’s nothing more awkward than botching the name of a wedding guest who you really don’t know very well. If you’re not sure about the spelling of a name, always check with a friend or loved one who knows the person better!

Include the children. If someone brings their kids to the wedding, and the gift is said to be from the whole family, the kids need to be included in the thank you note. Again, double check spellings if you’re unsure.

Try to remember who was actually at your wedding. “Thank you for your presence on our special day” is an odd thing to tell someone who wasn’t actually at the ceremony, and simply mailed you their gift. If you’re at all unsure about whether the person was present on your big day, skip this part of the card.

Personalize! A thank you note doesn’t need to be more than a few short sentences, so don’t feel like you have to write a book within each one—but do go into some specifics. “Thank you for the wonderful gift” feels generic. Make note of what the gift is, how you’ve used it, what it reminds you of, etc.

Don’t mention dollar amounts. Phrases like “thank you for the $200 Target gift card” are just not necessary. Focus on people and on gratitude, not on money.

Don’t show favoritism. Don’t slip a wedding portrait into one card if you can’t do it for all of them.

Don’t type your cards. Handwritten is always the way to go.

As we said in our previous post, the real focus should be on sincerity. Take just a couple of sentences to express your deep, personal thanks; that’s all you have to do!

For help with any writing needs, reach out to the Grammar Chic team at 803-831-7444, or www.grammarchic.net.

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Are Thank You Notes a Thing of the Past?

Pretty soon, you’ll be unwrapping boxes and reveling in gifts—but as you do so, don’t forget to thank the gift giver. There is no better way of doing so than by penning a thank you note.

Yes, the thank you note—once a staple of American social etiquette, today relegated to history books and Jimmy Fallon bits. According to recent research, some 75 percent of Americans believe thank you notes to be antiquated and obsolete—though it’s worth noting that this leaves a full quarter of Americans who still expect a thank you note when they give a gift.

At Grammar Chic, we are decidedly pro thank you note. Speaking personally, my mother always carved out time for thank you notes in the aftermath of Christmas and birthdays, and would stand looking over my shoulder until the notes were completed.

They may not be “necessary,” according to most Americans, but they are polite—and what’s more, they are simple and easy ways to show kindness, to express gratitude, and to help gift givers know that they affected you in some way. People won’t always remember how you thanked them in person, but they will remember a sincere and well-constructed note of gratitude.

Consider thank you note writing this holiday season—and as you do so, use these tips to ensure that your thank you notes resonate.

Writing the Perfect Thank You Note

  • A thank-you note should always be handwritten. Remember that the whole point of this is to provide personal expressions of gratitude, and something you type loses some of that human touch.
  • Generally, it’s good manners to mail your thank you note within a week of receiving a gift. The exception is a scenario where you receive a lot of gifts at one time, like a wedding or a baby shower, in which case more time is permitted.
  • The stationery you choose matters! A nice piece of writing paper adds panache to your thank you note, and turns it into something the recipient will truly treasure.
  • Begin your note with a greeting, conveying who you’re thanking.
  • Start your message with “thank you,” and keep things fairly brief from there. Convey a few specifics if you can, making it clear that the message is personalized—not boilerplate.
  • End your thank you note by telling the person you look forward to seeing them again soon, and state your thanks once more before signing your name.

Above all, be sweet and sincere—and if you have any specific questions about proper thank you note form, reach out to our team! Contact Grammar Chic, Inc. for any of your seasonal writing needs: www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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Can Outsourced Content Writing Maintain a High Level of Quality?

Whether because they lack the time, the ability, or some combination of the two, more and more businesses are outsourcing their content writing; when it comes time for a new company blog post or press release, they farm it out to an agency or a freelancer, where the work is done relatively hassle-free.

This method obviously has its advantages, but there can also be compromises—especially when it comes to quality.

It doesn’t have to be that way. You can get high-quality work through outsourced content writing, but to do so, you’ve got to hire the right people—and manage the process wisely.

Why Content Quality Matters

First, a quick word about quality. It can be tempting to approve of any half-decent writing that’s sent your way, but business owners can and should be pickier about what they accept. There are a couple of reasons for this, and the first is branding. The writing on your website or blog reflects your brand, and as such you want it to be authoritative, clean, and helpful; you want to provide value to your customers, without errors or typos. Sloppy writing makes you look like a sloppy company.

In addition, you need quality because Google demands it—and if you want your blog or website to rank well within Google searches, keeping the algorithms happy is a necessity. Google wants its search engine users to have relevant answers to all their quandaries, so to ensure high visibility, you have to be helpful and solutions-oriented.

Hiring Quality Writers

That’s a high threshold for your writer to meet—so how can you ensure that they rise to the challenge?

  • First, make sure you hire the right people. A writing company, as opposed to an individual freelancer, can offer a real business track record, including reviews and testimonials. Always ask for work samples, too. Of course, checking out the company’s own blog helps you see what they are capable of.
  • Always make sure you’re getting your writing done by native American English speakers.
  • Do your part to provide clear directions. Be ready to offer topics, a sense of your voice/desired tone, and any SEO keywords you’d like the writers to employ.
  • Also be prepared to educate the writer about who your audience is, and what you wish to accomplish with your writing. Clear goals are vitally important.
  • Provide constructive feedback whenever you can, which will help your writers better understand your voice.
  • Finally, make sure you know quality work when you see it. This goes beyond just checking for typos and grammatical errors. Also make sure the writing that’s submitted to you is tailored to your audience and advances the goals or agenda you’ve set forward.

At the end of the day, good writing is something you can offer to customers and potential customers—and optimally, it will offer both value and professionalism. Or, to put it more succinctly, it will offer quality­—and yes: That is something you can get through outsourcing, so long as you approach the process shrewdly.

To learn more, reach out to the writers at Grammar Chic, Inc. Be sure to ask us about our own standards of quality. Contact us at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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4 Ways to Make Your Copywriting SUPER Persuasive

Good online copywriting does more than just fill up the page, or offer fodder to the search engine algorithms. It also persuades. It encourages the reader to travel further down the sales path, either signing up for an email list, buying a product, or picking up the phone.

Or at least, that’s the way it should happen. We all know that much online copy just doesn’t move the dial; it doesn’t motivate the reader; and it certainly doesn’t improve the bottom line. That’s because it fails to persuade, often because it’s too steeped in tired, clichéd used-car-salesman tactics, or else bogged down in generalities.

So how can you make your copy not only pristine, but persuasive? Here are four steps to take right now.

Cut Meaningless Phrases

Consider this copywriting example: Our company produces world-class products that are bound to delight.

What does world class mean in this sentence? If your copywriting includes words or phrases you can’t readily explain, then it’s just not very good copy.

Specificity should always be your goal. Consider this rewrite:

Our products empower customers to increase their lead generation by 200 percent, representing the highest return on investment of any company in our industry.

Now that means something to your customers—and it’s better copy, because of it.

Use Numbers

Our second tip once again hinges on the idea of specificity. Simply put, using numbers and statistics is almost always more persuasive than speaking in generalities.

So, rather than saying that countless customers love your product, say something like, more than 200 businesses have trusted us with their email marketing needs, and we maintain an average 4.7-star rating among our clients.

Again, the specificity is eye-catching. It’s meaningful. It’s persuasive.

Get to the Point

A good rule of thumb with calls to action: Be direct, and tell your customer what to do next.

Consider these two variants:

If you’re interested in learning more, we encourage you to contact us at your convenience.

Or:

Call us now to start improving your lead generation by as much as 200 percent.

Which is more direct? And, which is more persuasive? The second, we’ll contend, is the option that conveys the most urgency and the most value.

Focus on Value

Your copy isn’t really about you. It’s about your customers, and the benefits they can gain from choosing your product or your brand.

Focusing on those benefits is the best way to persuade. Again, consider two variant CTAs:

Contact us today to learn more!

OR:

Contact us to empower your sales team and start capturing more leads.

Only the second option lays out a reason for your reader to take action—and that makes it by far the more persuasive of the two.

Get Help with Your Copywriting

Good writing should get results. At Grammar Chic, Inc., persuasive writing is our bread and butter. We can help you beef up your sales copy and start increasing your leads and conversions. Contact us today to schedule a consultation, and start filling your website with compelling sales copy.

Reach Grammar Chic, Inc. at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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An Editor Changed Your Work. Now What?

Working with an editor can be a funny thing. Often, a writer will send work to an editor, ostensibly understanding the purpose of the editorial process—that is, to make the work tighter, clearer, better.

But then, once the editor returns the work, the writer is appalled to find that it’s different from what he or she submitted. The editor has made changes to the text! What audacity!

Of course, if the editor didn’t make changes, then there wouldn’t be much point to the editing process at all. Still, seeing your manuscript marked up with red ink can be a little vexing; you obviously have an emotional attachment to your work, and while you want it to be the best it can be, you also want it to hold true to your original vision.

So what should a writer do upon receiving significant changes from an editor? Here are our tips.

Coping with Editorial Changes

First, analyze the changes. Take some time to really go through the revisions and to consider why they were made. You may even need to give yourself a day or two of distance, to get your emotions in check. What you’ll probably find, though, is that the changes were made to render the work clear and concise. Your editor is on the same team, after all, and just wants your writing to shine. Chances are, the changes made don’t alter your original message; most are probably relatively minor things that just make the work that much better.

Choose your battles. With that said, you don’t want to go to war with your editor over every tiny revision made to your manuscript—but if you feel like the changes actually alter the message or spirit of your work, or miss the point of it altogether, that’s when you should push back—gently! Which brings us to…

Be kind! No need to blow your stack and send the editor a nasty email. Instead, be polite and clear in articulating why you’re not comfortable with the changes. Explain your intention with the work, and then how those changes compromise your vision. More likely than not, your editor will be able to work with you to find a good place to meet in the middle.

Remember that an editor’s revisions are suggestions, not prescriptions. It’s still your work, and nobody’s forcing you to accept changes you’re just not comfortable with. You can graciously decline a piece of feedback that you feel misses the point of your work. With that said, if you find yourself declining every suggested change, that may be a sign that you’re not getting the most out of the writer-editor relationship.

Work with a Good Editor

Of course, it goes without saying that working with a qualified and competent editor is key. At Grammar Chic, Inc., our editors are effective at making your words shine—without changing the character of your work altogether. Learn more. Call us for a consultation at 803-831-7444, or reach out through www.grammarchic.net.

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7 Reasons to Hire a Professional Editor

Good writing and good editing go hand in hand; it’s impossible to imagine one without the other. If you want your writing to shine, then, it’s smart to consider working with a professional editor—and that’s true whether the work in question is a press release for your business or the first draft of that novel you’ve always wanted to write.

But what, specifically, are the benefits of working with an editor? We’ll list just a few of them.

Why Hire an Editor?

  1. An editor will offer you a fresh pair of eyes. The hardest part of editing your own work is that, after staring at the same document for hours, or reading it dozens of times over the span of many days or weeks, you just can’t help but gloss over your own mistakes. A third party will spot the things you miss.
  2. Editors are objective and unbiased. The editor doesn’t have any duty to uphold your feelings or bolster your self-esteem; the editor’s duty is to make the work as good as it can possibly be. The ruthlessness of a good editor can help you put aside vanity and really create the best writing possible.
  3. Editors know how to choose the best words. Good editing isn’t just about avoiding typos. It’s about expressing yourself in the clearest, most effective language possible—something an editor can assist you with.
  4. You can get help on your project at the developmental stage. If you have a piece of writing you’re just not sure about, or need to bounce off someone before you commit too much time to it, you can always enlist an editor to help you vet your ideas and make sure they’ve got real promise.
  5. Editors save you time. You could spend another few days re-evaluating your work, fussing and fretting over it again and again—or you could send it to an editor and then move on to your next project.
  6. Editors save you headaches, too. Editors are a special breed. They don’t mind going over word choices and grammatical constructions with a fine-tooth comb, or evaluating every clause and punctuation mark at the minutest level. That may sound tedious and frustrating to you, so why not get an editor to do it for you?
  7. An editor will help you distill your message. A good editor won’t try to remake your writing in their own image, but rather will help bring your work to its clearest, most effective state. You don’t need to worry about your message getting lost. A good editor will make sure that just the opposite happens.

Hire an Editor

No matter your writing project, a good editor can help you achieve its full potential. Hire an editor today by reaching out to the Grammar Chic, Inc. team at 803-831-7444, or www.grammarchic.net.

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How to Work Well with an Editor (And Maybe Even Enjoy It)

Writers know that they need editors to provide an unbiased assessment of their work; to bring precision and focus; and to help shape and mold the writing until it’s as perfect as can be, ready for public consumption.

They know it—but they don’t always like it.

And it’s not hard to understand why. Your writing is personal, and you have every reason to feel proud of it. Having a third party come in and start making changes can feel a little bit like a personal attack, though of course it isn’t.

With that said, you can have a fruitful and enjoyable experience working with an editor—whether on a piece of fiction or on the copy you’ve written for your business website.

Here are some suggestions we’d offer.

Get Along with Your Editor

Remember that your editor is on your side. You and your editor both have the exact same goal in mind: To produce the best piece of written content possible. You may be coming at it from different perspectives, but you ultimately want the same thing—so remember that criticisms you receive aren’t personal attacks. They’re honest attempts to make the work better.

Be open minded. Go into the process assuming that your editor’s suggestions are reasonable and worth considering. That doesn’t mean you have to act on every single one of them. It just means you should let them sit for a while rather than dismissing them out of hand. Even suggestions that initially strike you as ludicrous may reveal themselves to be really smart when you really give them a chance.

Give yourself some time and space. After you receive feedback from an editor, step away from your work for a day or two. Don’t rush to any judgments. Just allow yourself time and distance to make an informed and thoughtful decision.

Don’t fear that you’ll lose control. A good editor isn’t going to rewrite your work. A good editor will offer you guidelines for making it better—but you’ll always be in the driver’s seat, and it will always be your vision. You don’t have to worry that the work’s going to become something else altogether. And if you do have an editor who rewrites everything in his or her own image, well, that’s when it’s time to find a better editor.

Remember that editors are people, too. A good editor will be right much of the time, but not all the time. You probably shouldn’t ignore all your editor’s feedback, but pushing back against an item or two is perfectly reasonable.

Communicate. Ask questions. Get clarification. Try to find out why an editor is making his or her suggestions. Communication is key to any relationship, including the one between writer and editor.

Start a Productive Relationship Today

One more thing: It really is important to find a good, experienced editor. We’d love to talk with you about our own editorial lineup. Reach out to Grammar Chic, Inc. to learn more. Contact us at www.grammarchic.net, or 803-831-7444.

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